Stroke can occur as early as inside the womb. Due to its ability to render muscles weak or even inoperable, hinder balance, and affect speech, the complications from stroke can be extremely difficult on seniors.
The disease is our nation’s number five cause of death, killing 129,000 people each year – one every four minutes – according to the American Stroke Association. Stroke happens when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is blocked by a clot, or it ruptures. When this occurs, the part of the brain (cells) that can’t receive blood and oxygen, dies.
Some facts to consider: two-thirds of those hospitalized with stroke are over 65, and sixty percent of all victims are female. The ASA states that stroke is the leading cause of disability in adults, and that African-Americans’ risk is nearly twice that of the rest of the population. Despite these numbers, however, stroke deaths have actually declined since the turn of the century.
There are two types of stroke: hemorrhagic, which are caused by a blood vessel breakage in the brain; and ischemic, which come about via blood clots (produced by blood vessel fatty buildup and cholesterol) that make their way to the brain. Ischemic stroke affects seniors more commonly than hemorrhagic. One quarter of stroke survivors incur minor disability. As many as 40 percent experience moderate to severe issues, leaving them unable to walk, eat, stand, or process language as they did before the disease struck.
Interestingly enough, the New York Times reports that while ischemic stroke has an overall higher rate of survival, those who survive a hemorrhagic stroke tend to regain their normal bodily functions at a much higher rate.
Early warning signs of a stroke include facial or limb numbness, severe headaches, difficulty communicating or coordinating movements, and sudden vision issues. Because stroke annually kills up to twice as many women as breast cancer, it’s also very important to be aware that women’s stroke symptoms often differ from men, and may include hiccups, nausea, chest pain, heart palpitations and shortness of breath.
If you suspect that your elderly parent may be having a stroke, follow the ASA’s guidelines, also known as “F.A.S.T.”:
- Face Drooping: Ask them to smile. Is it uneven?
- Arm Weakness: Is one arm weaker? Ask them to raise their arms. Is one lower than the other, or immobile?
- Speech Difficulty: Ask them to repeat a simple phrase. Is speech slurred?
- Time to call 9-1-1: The more quickly that treatment is administered, the better chance there is of survival.
Although we hope that our elderly parents will never suffer a stroke, if it becomes a reality in your life, knowledge is great power.
There is so much to think about when entering the later stages of life. If you are considering elder care options, we at 805Aging can help. Our professional staff specializes in assisting you to choose the right kind of care for your loved one.
We conduct regular check-ins when you are unable to do so. 805Aging also provides oversight and detailed feedback to the family to keep your loved one safe and well-cared for day or night, weekday or weekend, holiday and every day.
We have the resources. We can hold your hand. We can guide you. Your peace of mind is our main goal, and is well assured. To find out more, call us at 805-750-4755 or visit our website and sign up for our monthly newsletter: www.805Aging.com.
There is no manual on how to take care of your parents as they age. They had a baby book when you were young. You have us. -Amy